Interview: Banda says high schools can opt out of controversial MAP tests

SEATTLE -- Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda announced Monday that high schools won’t have to give the controversial Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests next fall, but they will still be required in kindergarten through 8th grade.

The tests became a point of controversy after teachers at Garfield High School protested giving them, saying they are a waste of time as they don’t affect students’ grades and that they are used in teacher evaluations. Their protest spread to at least six other schools.

Banda had appointed a task force to look into the matter.

In a statement issued Monday, Banda said, “Based on this Task Force’s feedback, I am making the following decisions regarding the MAP assessment for the 2013-14 school year:

-- Continue the use of MAP in kindergarten through 8th grade in 2013-14;

-- High schools may opt out of MAP in 2013-14, but must provide evidence of a way to assess and monitor progress of students who are below standard in math and reading. In addition, the high school must follow their typical school-level decision-making process (which might include a school committee or staff vote)

-- Administer the MAP assessment twice a year, with mandatory MAP assessments for fall and spring, but optional for winter

-- Use MAP in conjunction with other data points in making programmatic decisions for students. Do not use MAP data in isolation for placement in programs;

-- Look beyond the next school year to explore new assessments. We will create a smaller working group/task force to evaluate future assessment options and make recommendations for testing starting in the 2014-15 school year.”

Banda said that in a survey administered by the Seattle Education Association, the majority of K-12 Seattle teachers said they “believe the MAP assessment is effective or somewhat effective in identifying students for additional support, interventions or accommodations. A majority of teachers also said the MAP assessment is effective or somewhat effective in measuring and charting student progress over time.”